I wrote an op-ed for the New York Times (my first time writing there instead of being quoted!), from the perspective of 200 years in the future when people have nostalgia for the good old days of quaint emoji. Here’s one part that I liked (longer excerpt here).
The early 21st century was also a golden era for linguistic innovation related to using indirect constructed dialogue to convey actions and mental states. In speech, this era saw the rise of “be like” and in writing, the “me:” and *does something* conventions. (And I’m like, how did people even communicate their internal monologues without these?? also me: *shakes head* yeah I have no idea.)
We now take these linguistic resources for granted, but at the time they represented a significant advancement in modeling complex emotions and other internal conditions on behalf of oneself and other people. Imagine being limited to the previous generation of dialogue tags, which attempted to slice everything into sharp distinctions between “said,” “felt” and “thought.”
I was very proud that this op-ed got me no fewer than five (5!) entries in New New York Times, a twitter account that tracks words that appear in the New York Times for the first time. (Also, which unhyphenated compound word from the early 23rd century are you?)
I also did quite a lot of travel!
Toronto – book event in conversation with Ryan North (of Dinosaur Comics fame), featuring a packed house with many old friends at The Ossington with Flying Booksn.
Portland – XOXO fest where I held a language meetup for the second time, introducing people to the excellent word game called Contact, left some signed copies at Powells, and gave many Because Internet stickers to people!
The third Language Files video in my recent collaboration with Tom Scott and Molly Ruhl went up, this time about the language sounds that could exist, but don’t (the forbidden grey boxes of the International Phonetic Alphabet).
The main episode of Lingthusiasm was a bilingual video episode interviewing linguist Dr Lynn Hou about her research on signed languages in natural contexts, including ASL on youtube and Chatino Sign Language, in ASL and English. The bonus episode was a behind-the-scenes look at the writing process for Because Internet. Watch the video episode here:
My keynote talk about internet linguistics at the CoEDL Summer School in Canberra, Australia last year went online. I also switched this monthly newsletter from Mailchimp to Substack (existing subscribers were already migrated, and you can still view it online at gretchenmcculloch.com/news, but if you’d like to get an email when I write a new post like this, you can sign up here).
I spent a week at a friend’s cottage by a lake for a much-needed respite, where I wasn’t on the internet much but did enjoy JY Yang’s Tensorate series :)
Long list of media from this month:
- CBC The Current – interview – 9/4
- “The List” – interview– 9/10
- KPR “Conversations” – interview – 9/9
National Print/Top Online:
- Wall Street Journal – mention “Tales of ‘Woah’” – 9/13
- The Washington Post – Review– 9/12
- New York Times – Op-Eds from the Future – 9/23
- Wattpad– feature– 8/27
- WeWork– feature– 9/3
- The Walrus – excerpt – 9/9
- GeekWire.com – review – 9/11
- Wired – mention – 9/11
- Lifehacker – mention – 9/23
- Mother Jones – review – 9/24
- Good Beer Hunting—mention – 9/25
- Esquire– roundup “The Best Nonfiction Books of 2019” –9/26
- Reader’s Digest– mention – 9/30
- Real Simple– roundup “Best Books of 2019” –10/1
Newsletters & Blogs:
- New York Times Book Review podcast – interview – 8/30
- Slate’s “The Gist with Mike Pesca” – interview – 9/5
- Six Pixels of Separation – interview – 9/22
- The Ezra Klein Show – recommended by Randall Munroe – 9/15
- A Way With Words Radio – mention – 9/23
- Seattle Review of Books – “Whatcha Reading” series – 9/7
- SF Gate – review – 9/13
- Columbia Journalism Review – mention – 9/16
- Washington Independent Review of Books– review – 9/25
- Me, an internet linguist, hiding under the bed
- People quibble about language “because it’s considered poor form to wear a hat that says ‘I went to private school’.”
- A note about the emoji font in Because Internet
- A thread about internet friends and creating your own twitter experience
- A story about language being affected by autocorrect
- What not to do when you’re factchecking an article
- New favourite novel sentence: an 18-carat-gold toilet and new favourite structural ambiguity: left death cab for cutie
- Don’t have a bookmark? Try using a crochet wug instead
- Words you don’t actually know how to spell and just rely on spellcheck for
- A video from 25 years ago talking about “internet” instead of “the internet”, which led into a thread about one of my favourite words, anarthrous
Selected blog posts:
- The language sounds that could exist but don’t
- Linguistics jobs: communications specialist
- The complicated decisions that come with digitizing indigenous languages
- The Bender Rule: why it matters to name the language(s) we study, even when it’s English
- Language Unlimited: a new linguistics book for a general audience by David Adger, which I blurbed
- The Extinction Symbol cropping up at climate change protests
Here’s a photo of me and Ryan North just before our event in Toronto, featuring the really excellent sign based on Because Internet that The Ossington made for us!